Category: Master Gardener (page 1 of 3)

Hell Strip Project Day 2

I first heard the term “Hell Strip” in our Master Gardener Intern year Water Conservation class.  It’s that narrow piece of yard between the sidewalk and the street.  In my yard it’s been mostly weeds, as we don’t have a sprinkler system and we don’t water the yard.  The reason this was discussed in class was so we would consider removing turf (or weeds, as in my case) and planting water-wise native perennials instead.  One of my classmates did just that and I was able to see the finished bed during the DCMGA Garden Tour last month.

I began working on this strip last February, but my initial efforts didn’t really succeed.  I removed as many weeds as I could by hand and then applied a layer of wood chip mulch.  Well, all I managed to do was stir up more seeds to the top, and they grew right through the layer of mulch.  Not at all the results I wanted.

So, I took notes on how my classmate created her new, improved Hell Strip and I began digging yesterday.  The goal is to dig out all the dirt down as far as I can (probably no more than 6 inches), then put down a thick layer of cardboard, and then fill back with new soil / compost, and cover with mulch.  I’m hoping to get that all done this week, as the weather forecast is for an unusually (for June) cool week. 

Here’s what I’ve accomplished in 2 mornings. 

digging out dirt in the hell strip
This is not nice soil. It’s no wonder weeds are thriving.

It doesn’t look like much, but it’s much more work than just simply digging.  There’s chunks of concrete and rocks and trash and oh, so many clay clods.  I shovel some dirt into the cart, then  break the chunks of clay and dirt up by hand and also sort out the rocks and cement pieces, throwing them into a bucket.  Some are too big for a bucket, so they get piled to the side.  Next I add about 1/3 again wood chip mulch and then I spread it.  Yesterday I spread in the swale along the south fence line; today it was under the Bradford pear tree.  Plus I added another couple of loads of mulch. 

Hoping to get it thick enough to stunt the grass and weeds, but not too thick. Don’t want to harm the roots of the tree.

Today I dug out four cartloads, plus 2 extra loads of mulch.  You can see the gaping hole on the side of the mulch pile (the same mulch pile from last December!).  The goal is to eventually spread most of that mulch pile around the pear tree and onto the Hell Strip.

wood chip mulch pile
Wood chip mulch pile from last December when we mulched the limbs of the pear tree.

I’ve decided I will only do the smaller strip near the mailbox this year.  Maybe this fall I’ll tackle the other strip – it’s twice as long, so I’m not looking forward to doing it.  Also, I’m trying to pace myself, because I really need to be able to move the rest of the month!  Yesterday I didn’t feel too bad, but today I am noticing some stiffness.  Good thing I’m still young!  LOL

When I came back inside late this morning, I noticed my hoya is blooming again, this time many more blossoms at the same time. 

hoya plant in bloom
The hoya plant from Propagation Class (Mach 2017) continues to delight.

They have such interesting blossoms – I’m fascinated by them.

Hoya blossoms.

Weekly Overview 04.02.18

Outside My Window…   my gardens are shaping up nicely.  The snapdragons that wintered over are looking particularly lovely.  And best of all, my Texas Star hibiscus is finally sending up new green shoots.  I’d been worried that moving it last month might have killed it, but it’s lived up to its description of a “hardy native.”

I am thinking…  about how quickly March flew by and how much I accomplished.  It seems like taking on the DCMGA newsletter (see April 2018 issue of The Root) has spurred me to make better use of my time.  I hope that trend continues.

I am thankful for…  Spring, warmer weather, green shoots, colorful blooms.

I am hoping… I get Quicken finally caught up and that tax filing goes smoothly.

 

 

 

I am reading…

  • The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes (Bestseller Code 100 book challenge)
  • The Pleasure Trap: Mastering the Hidden Force that Undermines Health and Happiness by Daniel J. Lisle (Book Club for Plant Based Eaters)
  • A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule The Future by Daniel H. Pink
  • Building The American Empire, Volume I: A Narrative History to 1877 by Harry L. Watson
  • Jeff Gordon: His Dream, Drive & Destiny by Joe Garner
  • Fast Food Genocide: How Processed Food is Killing Us and What We Can Do About It by Joel Fuhrman

I am busy creating… an wedding gift afghan for a cousin.  In March I crocheted a granny square lapghan for another cousin who turns 60 on May 1, along with retiring.  It took about a week to make, crocheting in the evenings.  I’ll ship it to him later in the month.

 

 

 

 

I am hearing… the washing machine, Bill clacking away on his keyboard, and the neighborhood garbage truck.

Around the house…  a lot needs to be done, as I’ve concentrated on Quicken, the DCMGA newsletter, and outside projects most of March.  I’ll need to find a day (soon!) to devote to some serious housecleaning!  Also, the bonus room wall still has not received the final coat of knock-down finish.  Bill has been busy with outside projects also!

Around the garden…  and yard a lot has been accomplished.  The holly bushes along the front sidewalk have been removed, 6 rain barrels bought, 1 rain barrel sample pedestal made, 120 cement blocks delivered and distributed, the compost bin area of the new fencing has received two coats of linseed oil, 3 blueberry bushes have been planted into large containers, and perennial have been added to the front and back flowerbeds.  All that in two weeks!  We have been busy.

 

Before

 

 

 

 

 

Removal

 

After

 

120 cement blocks

 

One rain barrel pedestal prototype

 

In other news…    the cardboard is laid down and the outline set with the cement blocks for my new veggie garden.  I’m not sure quite when I’ll acquire the soil/mulch to fill it, or even how high I will fill it (might only need one level of blocks rather than two), but I’m excited to have it laid out.

 

One of my favorite things…  my new garden cart.  I love it!  It was a huge help in moving around those 120 cement blocks!  It even dumps.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Weekly Overview… 

 Karen:  Monday morning the first issue of the DCMGA newsletter was mailed out to both members and another list of non-members who have signed up to receive announcements.  I have a chiropractor visit in the afternoon.  Tuesday is an all-day event at Global Spheres where I help assist with the Propagation Class for the 2018 Intern Class.  I’m looking forward to helping, although not the hours – I must be there at 8 a.m. and won’t be done until about 4:30 p.m.  I’m taking in my two spider plants so they can be trimmed by the interns and also taking in zinnia seeds that I gathered from my beautiful large zinnia plants last summer/fall.  It should be fun.  The rest of the week will be focused on Quicken / Taxes.

Bill:  Bill is working from home all week.  Evenings he’ll be continuing work on the rain barrel pedestals; although I think Monday night he plans to go to Sam’s Club to buy a battery for the Neon, which I discovered was no longer working when I went to move the car Friday morning.

David:  David will have his usual week – college classes/homework and progress on his Atomic Space Race game.

Here’s a picture thought I am sharing …  

 

January 2018 Goals Wrap-Up

January was a very busy month, with quite a bit accomplished.  Unfortunately, it seemed to be a short month (were there really 31 days in this January) and I have not completed my goals list, so there will be some carry-over into February.  We all knew this would happen, didn’t we?

Here’s the list I posted in my January 2018 Goals post updated to show progress:

  • Work towards finishing the auction/probate legal stuff on my dad’s estate – an accounting of the auction and my expenses was sent to the lawyer several days ago and I’m waiting on his response.  I can see that it will be necessary to begin calling his office.  So progress, but not completion.
  • Catch up Quicken – updates have been started, but much more needs to be done in February.
  • Start a new blog for book reviews – set up my name website, find a new theme to use – no progress at all in this area, so this will carry over into February.
  • Continue regular blogging – I consider this a success, as I did manage several blog posts in January.
  • Finish the 2017 crocheted snowflakes – block & starch – I crocheted two small afghans instead, so yeah, I did accomplish one crochet project planned for 2018, just not the one I had lined up for January.  Still a success.
  • Crochet the 2018 snowflake ornaments – nope, didn’t do this either, but I have begun a baby blanket for a Master Gardener friend who became a grandmother this month!  This can be a half fail, half success.
  • Do one picture project – watch for a future blog post on picture projects for 2018 – I didn’t do this either.  Instead I spent several hours going through all my picture files to help supply Fiona with pictures for a school video biography project.  The video was great (I have a copy!), so again, half fail, half success.

From all the red in the above list, it appears that I am going to have to work more diligently on some projects!  In my defense, I did also edit a complete book (freelance hire), graduate as a Master Gardener, travel to Waco for a square dance weekend, attend 6 Master Gardener meetings plus an all day workshop on Native Plants, dealt with Copper’s semi-annual visit to the vet, and got the Dart yearly inspection/registration and an oil change taken care of.  Plus, I’ve walked this month – slightly over 30 miles! I’ve been busy!

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